CBR wrote a sugarcoated list of what they describe as Russell’s best, most spectacular comic writings without even going in depth or giving a clear picture what they’re really about. They say:
Mark Russell is relatively new to the comic book writing scene, yet has already significantly impacted the industry. Since his debut in 2015 with DC Comics, Russell has built a reputation for himself as a go-to writer through his work at various publishers and with his creator-owned properties.
As a writer, Russell is a comedic genius with his own creations and can take existing properties and reconceptualize them for a more mature and sophisticated readership. Over the years, he has shown that comics are not only an escape from the real world but can be used to address current socially relevant issues.
Unfortunately, those would be ultra-leftist issues, as he demonstrated in his Hanna-Barbera adaptations, for example. And CBR’s writer clearly wants us to take what they’re saying at face value about “genius”. Including what they say about Russell’s take on “Prez”:
In 2015 as the build-up to the 2016 Presidental election began, DC Comics tapped Russell to reimagine Joe Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti’s 1970s character Prez Rickard, the first teenager to serve as President of the United States. In the original 70s series, the Constitution was changed, which allowed Rickard to be elected to the nation’s highest political office. The recent series, starring Twitter sensation Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross, is elected President in the Year 2036 and thrust into the political world where corporations hold political office, and the poor are used as human advertisements.
This reboot of the character was funny, pointed, and full of satire exposing everything wrong with the current state of American politics. Initially slated for a 12-issue series, it was reduced to six issues, leaving many more stories to be told with this character.
But they weren’t, were they? I guess it just wasn’t as successful as they think it was, and not many people were interested in reading. I notice they aren’t clear what’s wrong with the current state of US politics? Gee, how weird. They also cite his entries in DC’s Year of the Villain event:
Company-wide events and crossovers are one of the things driving the comic industry these days; usually, the one-shot issues that tie-in to the overall stories can be hit and miss—however, not Russell’s contributions to DC’s recent Year of the Villain event. As part of this DC Comics event, Russell contributed one-shots featuring Sinestro, Harley Quinn, and The Riddler.
Russell took these installments, which could have been an opportunity to tell a simple story, but instead turned each of these into a high-concept story that works on multiple levels. Not only were his three contributions high-concept, but he also took different angles on the event.
Never trust something built around villains. Especially when it’s claimed they’re “high-concept”. They also brought up the Snagglepuss mangling:
Russell then tackled, reinvented, and made the B-list Hanna Barbera cartoon character, Sugglepuss, into a relevant gay icon. After debuting as a backstory in the Suicide Squad/ Banana Splits one-shot as a southern gay, Tennesse Williams-esque playwright living in the 1950s driven, Snagglepuss was ready for the comic book spotlight under Russell’s expert hand in Exit Stage Left: The Snaggpuss Chronicles.
Russell’s tragic yet honest portrayal of the playwright’s journey from the respected playwright to television cartoon star provides the character with a new and meaningful origin. Russell’s work on Exit Stage Left: The Snaggpuss Chronicles earned him two more Eisner nominations, but the 2019 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Comic.
We’ve heard all that before too. And of course, they have no interest in voicing concern over the denigrating way Russell spoke about artist Jae Lee some time ago. By exploiting established cartoon characters as a way to channel his far-left politics, Russell has only demonstrated why he actually lacks the creativity to tell them with his own creations. I also have to wonder why he thinks anybody cares about cartoon creations from a studio that folded almost 2 decades ago, after being in business for nearly 45 years. CBR can say what they like, but it doesn’t change that he’s just another ideologue embraced by modern politicized company executives because he represents all they hold dear, at the expense of the properties they shouldn’t be overseeing.
*Two other inclusions worth mentioning was Russell’s contribution of trans-bestiality to the DC Universe via his take on Wonder Twins. And of course the CBR reporter’s top pick in his mind was the avowed atheist comic book writer’s mockery of the Christian faith, which incidentally showed up on the list twice.
Originally published here.